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Laura Curran lawsuit generated nearly $60,000 in legal bills

The Nassau County executive argued unsuccessfully in her suit that county legislators had not provided proper public notice about emergency budget amendments.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

County Executive Laura Curran’s eight-day lawsuit against the Nassau Legislature, in which she argued unsuccessfully that lawmakers had not given proper public notice about emergency budget amendments, has left the county on the hook for nearly $60,000.

County Attorney Jared Kasschau filed the lawsuit in November on Curran’s behalf. But because the county attorney also represents the legislature, he authorized Republican and Democratic legislators, as well as legislative clerk Michael Pulitzer, to hire their own attorneys.

Their legal bill: $57,564.83

Dino Amoroso, a Democratic attorney who served as Nassau Off Track Betting Corp. president when his party controlled the legislature in the early 2000s, represented the Democratic legislative minority. He submitted a bill of $6,500, records show.

Berkman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy & Fenchel, the law firm that includes former Republican Hempstead Supervisor Greg Peterson and had employed former Nassau Republican chairman Joseph Mondello until he stepped down to become U.S. ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, represented Pulitzer, a Republican. The firm billed $11,160.

Attorney Ronald J. Rosenberg, of Rosenberg, Calica & Birney, represented the Republican legislative majority. Rosenberg served as lead counsel for all the defendants and also tried to remove Kasschau from the case for conflicts of interest. The law firm billed $39,904.83.

After the legislature in October unanimously approved this year’s budget, which included a number of amendments, Kasschau notified lawmakers he intended to file suit on Nov. 5. A state Supreme Court justice that day denied his motion for a temporary restraining order. By Nov. 12, Kasschau had dropped the lawsuit after Curran reached a budget agreement with Democratic lawmakers.

One of the budget amendments approved by the legislature was to include $1.6 million in funding to reopen two county police precincts. Curran had called the move “irresponsible” — estimating the reopening cost at $5 million — and vetoed the county budget.

But the weekend before the legislature was expected to override her veto, Curran made an agreement with Democratic lawmakers to fund their initiatives, including the precinct reopenings. Democrats then voted against overriding her veto of the budget, which they had unanimously voted in favor of two weeks earlier.

Curran said she would reopen the precincts some time this year. Asked when the reopenings would occur, Curran spokeswoman Christine Geed said, "promotions have been made and renovations are underway. This is just another … distraction," by the Police Benevolent Association, the county's largest police union.

Nassau PBA President James McDemott responded, “What is she talking about? We bring to light there’s a problem with the [police] cars," that need replacement. "We challenge [Curran] on her decision to move ICE out of Nassau County. So everything is our fault moving forward? I don’t understand.”

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